140 beats per minute. Rave culture and art in 1990s Poland
The title is a reference to the number of beats per minute in classic techno music. Jacek Sienkiewicz, a pioneer of techno in Poland, whose works are presented in the exhibition, played in this tempo in the 90s.
Marcelo Zammenhoff, „Usta”, 1992
The “140 beats per minute” exhibition, prepared for this year's Open'er Festival by the Mu-seum of Modern Art in Warsaw, presents the connections between 90s rave culture and modern art in Poland.
The word “rave” is used to describe dance parties with electronic music – mainly techno – that began to appear in Poland together with the political system change in the early 90s, often voicing the naive, but nonetheless authentic optimism of opening up to the world, its civilizational and technological advancement.
The rave/techno culture was the music subculture that appeared after 80s punk, engaging visual artists fascinated by how the rave community came together in reaction to the neoliberal atomization, privatization and hierachization of society. It was also a new subculture, after the hippies, to show such interest in the visual. Images were as important for them as dance and music. It was the first time a dance party became an equally important medium for visual artists. Galleries became dance clubs, exhibitions turned into rave parties.
Visual artists were intrigued by a new figure present in rave culture, that of a sample artist - DJ and VJ – who creates his works live from prepared material. As opposed to previous music subcultures and artistic directions, a sample artist fights for his anonymity and con-tests the existing cultural hierarchies – the divisions between the revered artist and the fascinated fans. Artists interpreted techno as another incarnation of avant-garde, non-literary abstract art of constructivist provenance. By entering into a relation with rave cul-ture, they showed interest in its technological aspect. Here, art is created mechanically. It is a reaction to the appearance of new, mass-scale technologies, such as personal com-puters and the internet, in the 90s. Art created in the context of rave was another chapter in the history of relations between art and technology, and a direct precursor of current post-internet art.
In the “140 beats per minute” exhibition we are especially interested in the role of rave in relation to the pop tendency of Polish art in the 1990s. In opposition to so-called critical art, artists creating this trend sought more inclusive, non-elitist forms of building communities through art.
Guided tour with the curator every day at 6 pm, in English – 7 pm.
Paweł Althamer, Rafał Bujnowski, CUKT, Marta Deskur, Sławomir Elsner, Jarosław Fliciński, Marek Kijewski/Małgorzata
Malinowska (Kocur), Karolina Kowalska, Wspólnota Leeeżeć, Grupa Ładnie, Miłosz Łuczyński, Marcin Maciejowski, Joanna Małecka, Paweł Paulus Mazur, Yach Paszkiewicz, Józef Robakowski, Jacek Sienkiewicz, Janek Simon, Jacek Staniszewski, Karol Suka, Agnieszka Tarasiuk, Piotr Wyrzykowski, Robert Zając, Marcelo Zammenhoff, Alicja Żebrowska, with guest artist Gregor Różański